30 Days in the Life of Coronavirus
The other day, I posted info on Facebook about how to avoid spreading coronavirus. A friend asserted that this was all just politically driven hysteria, and pointed out that during Obama’s Presidency, H1N1 killed over 12,000 Americans in a single year. The day that he wrote that, the American death toll from coronavirus was in the 40s.
While I countered that the coronavirus is highly contagious, I was still bothered by the stark contrast in the numbers, and began to wonder if perhaps my friend had a point about things being blown out of proportion.
To test the theory, I looked at the numbers and put together a model based on those numbers. What I found was alarming, and yet quickly appeared to underestimate the scope of what is coming. It should be a wakeup call to every American about the need to practice social distancing and all other CDC recommendations NOW.
The issue is not so much the number of people who will die, although the number is likely to be large. But the greater issue is the strain that will soon be placed on our country’s medical system. Due to inadequate measures taken thus far by our government and our fellow citizens, America may well be in for a crisis far eclipsing that of Italy. If you are not familiar with what is happening there, you need to be. There is little time left for us to avoid such a catastrophe. We need to dramatically alter what we are doing NOW.
To create the model, I relied on a few basic facts:
- On 3/11, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. was 1,267
- On 3/14, the number of confirmed cases in the U..S. was 2,657
- That equates to a daily increase of 28%
- The death toll on 3/14 was 50 which would imply an approximate death rate of 1.88%
- A study by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) determined that the maximum incubation period for the virus (no symptoms, but contagious) is 15.6 days
- CIDRAP’s study determined that the median incubation period for the virus (no symptoms, but contagious) is 5.1 days
- The CDC estimates that hospitalization will be needed for 20% of cases
- Much of that hospitalization will require ventilators
- America has approximately 45,000 intensive care units (ICUs) with ventilators
Below is the model, which assumes no significant change in behavior by Americans and no cure or vaccine available within the next month:
Today was the first day of new data to compare with the model. As of this writing on 3/15, the number of cases in America is 3,552, and the number of deaths is 65 – both higher numbers than predicted in the model above.
The model is also graphed as the main image for this article, but is, of course, cut off at the top. Below is the full graph. The fact that it stops at April 12 was an arbitrary decision on my part to limit the data to 30 days: in reality, of course, the disease may continue to spread beyond that.
To summarize, the difference between H1N1 and coronavirus in terms of spread is that, without drastic measures, it is likely to kill more Americans by April 6 than H1N1 killed in an entire year. The calls for social distancing (6′), hand washing, avoiding touching the face, avoiding crowds, etc. are not hysterical hype, but rather are crucial and sensible measures that we all must take NOW.
The purpose of this piece is to raise public awareness in hopes of changing public behavior in time to prevent crippling or even collapsing our nation’s hospital system. We have little time left.
– rob rünt